The Great Schools in Wake Coalition is accusing the Wake County school board majority of putting "special interest politics ahead of the values of the community" with the votes taken at last week's meeting.
In a press release today, GSIW complains about the 5-4 votes on hiring Heidrick & Struggles, eliminating the requirement that the superintendent be an educator and dropping out of the state and national school boards associations.
Yevonne Brannon, GSIW chairwoman, said the board actions taken last week "demonstrates reckless disregard for the community and for our family values.”
“The board majority is operating in pennywise and pound foolish fashion—hiring the most expensive, most inexperienced firm to conduct a search for our next superintendent, yet disassociating our community from local and national professional education organizations, which cost relatively little to join, and yield so much benefit.” Brannon said in the press release, “The cost of their ongoing spending spree is in the tens of millions of dollars. But the damage they are doing to the quality of our schools is incalculable.”
The press release also includes criticism from Charlotte Turpin, retired Wake County educator, past president of the Wake NC Association of Educators and current President of the Harriet B. Webster Task Force for Student Success. Turpin accuses the board majority of having a "political agenda" for wanting to consider non-educators to be superintendent.
“Our great school system must be led by an experienced educator who understands the challenges of the classroom, the needs of all pupils, and the strengths upon which we must build in Wake County, if we are to advance student achievement to the next level," Turpin said. "The thought of hiring a businessperson as our next superintendent is appalling. It is no more appropriate than having a carpenter perform heart surgery, just because he has tools to measure and cut.”
The GSIW also complains about the board's decision to purchase the land in Rolesville for the new high school. Brannon points to how much further away Rolesvile High school would be to Wakefield High than the Forest Ridge site.
“The board majority rewrites policy to favor ‘proximity’ in student assignment, yet they move forward to site a new high school in a remote area of the county, which will force students to be bused great distances—it is twelve miles away from Wakefield High School, which has 3,000 in space designed for 1,800.” Brannon said, “It is obvious that the wellbeing of children affected by these decisions is not being considered.”
Brannon's arguments echo many of those voiced by Commissioner Stan Norwalk for opposing the Rolesville site. That's not surprising considering that GSIW has on its web site a talking points sheet on the issue put together by Norwalk.